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Optimizing digital data collection using DHIS2 in Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) programming: Malawi EMPOWER Experience

Authors: Nennie Lungu,1 Matthew Kankhulungo, 1 Linda Muyumbu, 1 Boniface Maket,1 Maria Mkandawire,1 Yona Nyondo,1 Leo Magombo1

1FHI 360, Malawi EMPOWER


The Expanding Malawi HIV/AIDS Prevention with Local Organizations Working for an Effective Epidemic (EMPOWER) project is a large-scale multifaceted program that provides sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV services to more than 40,000 adolescent girls at 40 sites across Malawi. The project team used DHIS2 to ensure the availability of high-quality data in a timely manner to guide program design and inform mid-course corrections. This abstract describes how the DHIS2 tracker was implemented across diverse sites with limited internet connection to collect real-time data, reducing data transmission time, lowering data entry costs, and providing real time data for analysis and programming.


In June 2020, EMPOWER developed a database using DHIS2 tracker version 2.33.8 to capture longitudinal data for SRH/HIV services provided to AGYW during monthly community outreach. The DHIS2 tracker collects individual data and runs on both the computer and android devices for offline data capture. We conducted a one-week training for data entry clerks on data capture, cleaning and analytics using the DHIS2 tracker using tablets. Currently the tracker is deployed to capture individual level data at 40 community outreach sites for more than 40,000 AGYW monthly.


Using the DHIS2 tracker, we collected data at multiple outreach sites. DHIS2 tracker allows instant merging of longitudinal records unlike other routine statistical software packages where the process took more than a week to complete. Skip patterns and other internal data quality checks within the tracker help improve completeness and accuracy of data. EMPOWER can track HIV services among AGYW over-time to determine impact of its interventions. Using the DHIS2 tracker, EMPOWER has saved over $10,000 by purchasing tablets instead of computers as were previously needed. The tracker also enabled the project to efficiently develop analytical dashboards to track performance and thus aid in improving programming.


Use of DHIS2 tracker and app for longitudinal data collection for community outreach programs with large number of beneficiaries ensures data is collected and captured at different delivery points, times and merged instantly to inform programming, through real-time analytics within the platform. It also is cost effective and scalable.

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Use of male champions to improve male involvement in HIV testing: The experience of the Malawi EMPOWER Activity

Authors: Nennie Lungu,1 Boniface Maket,1 Maria Mkandawire,1 Linda Muyumbu,1 Yona Nyondo,1 Matthew Kankhulungo,1 Patrick Gwaza,1 Pius Mtike,1 Fatsani Gadama,1 Leo Magombo,1 Jennifer Arney,2 Kumbukani Chawinga,3 Allan Kalande,3 Oramah Bokosi,3 Efred Mfitilodze,3 Tadala Simika,3 Andrew Chumachienda,3 Bob Phiri,3 Geofrey Makina3

1FHI 360, Expanding Malawi HIV and AIDs Prevention with local Organization working for an Effective Epidemic Response (EMPOWER)

2FHI 360, Washington, DC, USA

3Pakachere, Malawi EMPOWER Activity, Zomba, Malawi


Men living with HIV in Malawi have low rates of health-seeking behaviors, tend to present at clinics with advanced HIV, and have low viral load suppression rates. Research by the USAID-funded program EMPOWER (Expanding Malawi HIV/AIDS Prevention with local organizations Working for an Effective Epidemic Response) on men’s barriers to HIV services and beneficiary engagement has demonstrated men’s preference for male providers and for flexible and confidential service delivery models. To reach men, EMPOWER provides education on HIV prevention behaviors, creates demand for HIV testing services (HTS), ensures that men know their HIV status, and encourages linkage to treatment and care for HIV-positive men. Here, we describe how EMPOWER contributed to reaching more men with these services.


EMPOWER reaches priority populations such as estate workers, fisherfolk, and male partners of adolescent girls and young women using targeted one-on-one and small group sessions on risk reduction. To encourage participation, EMPOWER uses trained male champions who are members of these populations to provide men with services. In addition, EMPOWER’s community-based testing approach brings HTS closer to men by offering services at times and locations that are convenient for them. To understand the effectiveness of this approach, EMPOWER analyzed program data for HTS from April to September 2020.


During the period under review, the number of men tested increased from 41 in Q3 FY20 (April–June 2020) to 1,034 in Q4 FY20 (July–September 2020) (Figure 1). In Q4, men accounted for 47 percent of the quarterly target. In addition, the number of men newly tested positive for HIV increased from 22 in Q3 FY20 to 84 in Q4 FY20. Of the males tested in Q4 through the male champion strategy, 651 were new testers and these accounted for 63 percent of those tested. On the other hand, the reminder 383 were repeat testers (last negatives). The positivity rate among the new testers was at 9.3 percent as compared to repeat testers which was at 6 percent. Hence use of male champions increased the likelihood of accessing testing services by hard-to-reach segments of the population who might never have had a chance to be tested at the health facility.


Use of male champions and bringing HTS to men is a promising strategy for increasing male participation in HIV prevention and testing services. Male champions also have the potential to significantly increase promote testing among first time testers who cannot access testing at health facilities.

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